Public 2-Year Schools

Atlantic Cape: Eyes Student Success with New Center

Atlantic Cape Community College is a leader on student success and retention efforts, and the college broke ground Sept. 29—50 years after the original college groundbreaking—on a new facility that will boost these endeavors.

The $10.3 million Student Success and Career Planning Center at the Mays Landing Campus will support the college’s growing Student Success Initiatives. The two-story, 20,000-square-foot building will house student activities on the first floor and the Student Success and Career Planning Center on the second floor.

The first floor will house traditional student center activities and centralize student clubs, the student newspaper and student recreation. On the second floor, the center will offer guidance and resources to assist students in making informed decisions about career choices, including career counseling and access to computers for job searches, and support other success initiatives.

“This is our commitment to the future,” said Dr. Peter L. Mora, president. “This will increase retention and graduation rates. We are putting our resources right with the students.”
The project is funded through the state Building Our Future General Obligation Bond funds and Atlantic County and is expected to open in spring 2018.

“I think the investment Atlantic Cape is making demonstrates how important we consider this aspect of learning to be,” said Gregg Edwards, deputy secretary for New Jersey Higher Education, who attended the event.

College officials highlighted the need for the facility. “We are dedicated to academic achievement and student engagement. It is amazing, the depth of our programs and student clubs,” said Dr. Mitchell Levy, vice president of student affairs and dean of the Cape May County Campus. “Research shows if they have a career goal, students are more likely to stay in school and finish.”

Current and former students attending the groundbreaking ceremony praised the student-centered emphasis of the new facility.

“In a community college, most students are not directly connected with the college, but services like student government, clubs and a life center make students gravitate toward campus,” said Andrew Michedlishvili, president of the Student Government Association. “The Student Success and Career Planning Center will give them a place to connect with other highly motivated students.”

While Alma Albarran Martinez, a 2016 graduate and alumni representative to the Atlantic Cape Board of Trustees, won’t directly benefit from the center, she is excited for the opportunities it will provide new students.

“This is a physical representation that we want to give students the opportunity to move forward. In 15 months, I hope students will use all of these resources to their benefit,” she said.

Atlantic Cape’s Student Success Initiatives promote both academic achievement and career development to provide all students assistance where they need it most and include:

• Accelerated Learning Program—Allows qualified students to accelerate their remedial English progress.
• Accelerated Math—Offers students who need Developmental Math the opportunity to take two remedial courses in one semester through block scheduling.
• Career Development—By assisting students in making informed career decisions, they find increased empowerment and motivation, in addition to ownership of their educational goals.
• Early Alert—Provides faculty a forum to refer students exhibiting behaviors not conducive to academic success as soon as they are observed, allowing for immediate intervention.
• Honors Program—Offers high-achieving students the opportunity to participate in engaging and creative learning environments that extend beyond those of the regular classroom.
• K-12 Partnerships—A two-pronged approach that allows college-ready high school students to earn college credit or early intervention for students needing developmental work.
• Math Boot Camp—Offers reinforcement in concentrated areas for students who test near the cutoff for college-level math.
• Prior Learning Assessment—Allows students the opportunity to seek credit for life and professional experience and previously earned credentials.

Atlantic Cape earned the elite Leader College status from Achieving the Dream for its efforts.

Atlantic Cape Community College Introduces Hybrid Virtual Course Offerings at Cape May County Campus

Atlantic Cape Community College introduced hybrid virtual courses this fall at its Cape May County Campus. They were so successful that the college will increase the number of classes for the spring 2017 semester. Students may choose from among 15 courses in the following disciplines: English, Communication, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Psychology, Sociology, Human Services, Music, Philosophy and Allied Health.

In hybrid virtual classes, professors divide their time between the Mays Landing and Cape May County campuses. While a professor teaches a class at one campus, it is live-streamed to students at the other, where a teaching assistant, who can manage any technical issues, is on hand. Live-streaming is transmitting or receiving live video and audio coverage of an event over the Internet.

According to Otto Hernandez, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs, just as in traditional courses, students attend class and participate in virtual classes. “Students get to personally interact with the instructor,” Hernandez notes.

Hugh Murray, who is teaching Introduction to Criminal Justice as a hybrid virtual course this semester, explains that students in Cape May Court House and those in Mays Landing simultaneously listen to lectures, watch videos and participate in class discussions via live-streaming. “There is some good interaction between each campus and some good back-and-forth between students,” Murray says.

Dante Vasser, Cape May resident and freshman Criminal Justice major in Murray’s class, agrees: “The professor keeps us involved in everything.” Classmate Gillian Van Houten, also a freshman Criminal Justice major from Cape May, concurs and appreciates how engaging Professor Murray is. Noting that when Murray is in Mays Landing, and “he asks the Mays Landing class a question, then he’ll say, ‘Cape May, what do you think?’”

Hybrid virtual courses allow the college to offer courses at the Cape May County Campus that historically could not be run as traditional in-person classes due to low enrollment. Now, students may complete up to nine associate degrees entirely in person at this campus by taking a combination of traditional, online and virtual courses. These degrees are in: Business Administration, Communication, Criminal Justice, Education, General Studies, Health Services, Human Services, Liberal Arts and Psychology.

“Essentially, we are able to offer these degrees that students can pursue without ever leaving the county,” Hernandez notes.
Murray, a Cape May resident and retired police chief and township manager of Willistown, Pennsylvania, agrees that the virtual courses are convenient for Cape May County students who would otherwise have to drive to Mays Landing to take certain courses. Van Houten confirms that and says, “I like it because it’s easy. All my classes are at the same campus, and I don’t have to drive to Mays Landing.”

Tom Reynolds, a sophomore General Education major of Cape May Court House, explains that he prefers the virtual classes to online classes because, “I personally feel I learn more in a classroom environment. You need a lot of self-discipline with an online course.” Reynolds confides that he was leery about taking a virtual course, “but after seeing how included we are and the fact that Professor Murray comes back and forth every other week,” has convinced him that the class is a good experience and that he would enroll in another virtual course.